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Clean water is a basic building block of strong communities

AmeriCorps members Ryan Friebertshauser, left, Tito Picasso Aquino, Sarah Homan and Lana Milbern will spend a year working with the Huff Run Water Restoration Project through the Ohio Stream Restore Corps program.

File

Join Rural Action and the Huff Run Watershed Restoration Partnership on Saturday, Oct. 17 for the annual Huff Run Watershed Fall Tour, a seasonal event that highlights some of the many initiatives in place to improve the condition of the watershed that has been affected by irresponsible coal, limestone and clay mining, untreated sewage, nearby agriculture, illegal dumping and pollution from oil and gas extraction.

The tour includes an acid mine drainage restoration project construction site, a presentation at the Sattler Bottom Bridge from representatives working on the planned mitigation project that includes moving the Huff Run stream channel and a stop in historic Zoar Village where work on Middle Run will soon begin.

Huff Run has seen much improvement in recent years.

“Huff Run has seen an incredible comeback,” Marissa Lautzenheiser, the Middle Tuscarawas River Watershed coordinator, said. “Overall, we’ve seen an increase from 11 total species in Huff Run to 36 total species being identified.”

According to Lautzenheiser, only one species was found in 1997 at the site furthest downstream.

Lautzenheiser credits the restoration projects for the increase in aquatic species, a sign the water quality has improved.

“We’ve sampled the site every year since and, after the installation of our restoration projects, we’ve seen a total of 24 species at the same site where there was only one previously found,” she said. “We measure our success by the comeback of biological diversity, like fish and aquatic bugs, so we are quite excited about these tangible results. We found two new species just this year, including the pollution-intolerant black-sided darter.”

The annual tour gives residents and visitors the opportunity to see aspects of the watershed up close and learn the importance of small headwater streams and how they interact with the larger river systems that impact the entire watershed.

“The size of the stream is somewhat underwhelming,” Lautzenheiser said. “It’s a small stream. Participants are surprised at all the engineering and planning that goes into the restoration projects, and their overall costs. Most of our systems cost over $200,000. Once they see the investment that is going into cleaning up the acid mine drainage issue, they better grasp the severity of the situation.”

Huff Run is a headwater stream, meaning it joins up with many other small streams to feed larger river systems like the Tuscarawas River. The health of these small streams, like Huff Run, help determine the health of major water systems like the Tuscarawas River and the Muskingum River.

“These streams are important flood storage areas, lessening the impact on downstream communities,” Lautzenheiser said. “And communities everywhere deserve clean water. Communities will value their natural assets more if they are accessible and clean. We envision a region with livable, swimmable and fishable water sources. Clean water is a basic building block of strong communities.”

Attendees should meet at the Huff Run Watershed office at 8728 N. High St. in Mineral City at 10 a.m. The tour will conclude at approximately 1 p.m.

A free shuttle will take guests on the tour, and a free luncheon will follow. An optional tour of historic Zoar Village is available. Guests should plan for a somewhat active tour including moderate walking on uneven terrain.

For more information, or to RSVP for this event, contact the office at 330-859-1050 or email marissa@ruralaction.org.

Published: October 9, 2015
New Article ID: 2015710099969